Review of Roman Candle Album by Elliott Smith

There are very few more tragic stories than that of Elliot Smith. A multi talented musician, he was as prolific as he was gifted, releasing 4 albums between 94 and 98.

Elliott Smith Roman Candle Album

His solo career followed the demise of his first band Heatmiser, who released three albums before their eventual demise. It was after this that Smith's girlfriend convinced him to send an 8 track demo of his solo songs to a local record company. They were well received and it was to be these tracks that made up debut album Roman Candle and kick started his ever growing solo career.

This reissue of that album is re-mastered but retains the vulnerabilities of its original release and in doing so stays true to Smith's folk roots. Opener Roman Candle is as beautiful and poignant as ever, reopening fresh wounds from when you first heard it. The chorus is sang so well it reminds you just how perfect his voice was, complimenting his intricate and heartfelt playing throughout.

The melodic twang of the albums unnamed tracks sits perfectly with the likes of Drive all over Town with its soothing chorus and choppy playing. It would also be impossible not to mention the galloping No name 4 which oozes quality with its Beatles like melodies. However it's the hard hitting Last Call that has the most lasting effect. 'you're a J walker and you just walk away - and that's all you do' sings Smith passionately before breaking out into a subtle yet impressive brooding solo that proves to be the albums undoubted high point.

Elliot Smiths tragic suicide marked the end of a career that despite his already impressive output, still had tons more to offer. Perhaps this re-release of his debut solo album will remind people just what an impressive individual talent he was.

Sam Marland

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